Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Stop Right There

In the darkness of the middle of the night, I was wielding a baseball bat and chasing burglars through unlit hallways and across a rooftop.  It was 1986, and another pastor and I lived in a church that had been burglarized earlier in the day.  Separated from my fellow pastor, I pursued several fleeing figures that I could barely see, hoping to get close enough to . . . I don’t know what.  Turning a faintly lit corner, I came face to face with a police officer, his gun drawn and pointing at my chest.  “Stop right there!” he commanded.  I did.  “Who are you?” he demanded.  Raising my hands and baseball bat above my head, I stammered, “I’m a pastor—Ralph Harris—and I live here.  My roommate must have called you.”

I have never forgotten the feeling of grave danger and of being out of control.  My life was on the line, unless and until I answered that question adequately and the truth made the difference.  It did.

I want you to stop, at least for a moment, and answer the question, “Who are you?”  However you answer that question will reveal what you think will save you because your life is on the line.

There is an awful lot that suggests an “awful you” or a “lesser you,” one that bears little resemblance to who you are because of how you’ve been made—or re-made by God.  And if you’re reading this, chances are good that you know what I’m talking about:  the new creation you.  I’m not talking about the businessman or businesswoman you, I’m not talking about the student you, the employee you, or the father, mother, son or daughter you.  Those are all tributary identities to the primary identity—to the source identity—to the “you” you truly are.  I’m talking about the you that is clean and holy and perfect, the Spirit-born you, an actual son of God, a light in this world, in whom the Kingdom of God dwells, God having seen to it, God having seen to you, through the new birth in Christ. 

I’m talking about that you.  And I simply want to remind you today that sometimes you’ve got to stop or be stopped (as it was with me) in order to think again about who you are because it can seemingly get lost in the things we do.  And if we have been made to live by faith in Christ (that He was who He said He was and who He says He is, perfect God toward man) and that you and I are who He says we are (perfect sons and daughters), then we’re going to have to answer that question, “Who are you?”  We’ll even have to ask it of ourselves so we can proceed in our days and live from the answer.  Only then can our tributary identities receive and be influenced from the source.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to ask that sort of question of myself all the time.  As perfectly united with God as I am, having Him now inside of me, when I wake in the morning sometimes it seems as though God and I did nothing together at all yesterday, or that He doesn’t even exist, which puts me in serious trouble.   I’ve lost my identity and am subject to the lesser ones of this world.  There’s a lot of grief and twistedness there.  But He does exist, and I am well with Him; it’s just that my thinking needs a repentance—a “WAKE UP!” call.

And then I am revived.  The Holy Spirit in me sees to me, takes care of me, and together we can do all things.  So can you when you’ve had your wake up call.  Maybe this, “Stop right there!” will serve that purpose.

But just in case:  “Who are you?”
 

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Happy Audience

Sometimes it occurs to me that I’ve got a bigger audience than I think. 

Whatever is tempting me, whether fear, lust, covetousness, envy, pride—whatever—how excellent it is to offer myself to God, now inside of me.  You’ve got to know that the angels rejoice whenever they see me doing that, not only because they know that recovery is beginning and that I believe that Christ is inside of me (I’m living by faith), but they also know that my friendship with God is proving to be as good as they know it is.  I think they love that.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The God Who Doesn't Pay Attention

I have a question for you today:  Do you know “The God Who Doesn’t Pay Attention”?  Do you know that God? 

Your relationship with this god goes something like this:  you make a deal with him, you put together some kind of covenant, with really good stuff in it, like reading the bible all the way through in a year, supporting a missionary or a child in India, talking to people about Jesus and sharing your faith, giving up alcohol or chocolate for a year, etc., so that god will give you something better that you don’t have now.  You know—like a better job, a better car, a better home, a better spouse(!), or a better something.  And you follow through but God doesn’t.  You keep your end of the deal (you actually start supporting a missionary), but God doesn’t come through with his.  That’s “The God Who Doesn’t Pay Attention,” and that’s what I’m talking about.  Naturally, you struggle with this god, trying to figure out what kind of agreement or what kind of covenant you can make with him that he’ll honor and actually complete.

After all, you’re trying to work with him.

And somewhere in the course of your struggle with “The God Who Doesn’t Pay Attention,” it occurs to you that maybe God isn’t bargaining with you, that maybe he’s not playing the covenant game with you at all.  Keep that thought.

In fact, God is not making covenants with people at all.  He’s not doing it.  The truth is that God is paying attention to only one covenant now, and He made it with Jesus only—you simply get all of the benefits and blessings of their covenant.  God kept you out of the covenant equation and the pressure to keep it so He can give you everything as a gift forever.  Eternally.  For free.

Hebrews 9:15 says that, “. . . Christ is the mediator of a new covenant (He’s the one who brings us together with God and keeps us together, no matter what), that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”  (Parenthesis mine.)  It’s all a gift.  Forever.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Amen? 

So the next time you think that God isn’t paying attention to your attempts at bargaining for yourself, of making an agreement for yourself, remember this:  You’re right.  He isn’t.  He’s paying attention to Jesus, and you’re far better off because of it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Two Words of Encouragement

People commonly attempt to encourage by extolling our great possibilities because of our great potential and the virtues of all that we can do, which is a good thing.  But sometimes I’m better built up by remembering how very little I actually need to do.

To illustrate, consider two of my favorite words:  “Rahab lied.”  There you go.  How does that make you feel?  Off the charts with encouragement?  Over the moon? 

Well, think about it.  Rahab, the hooker, is on the short list of the Biblical Hall of Fame, found in Hebrews 11.  Maybe you know who is in the Hall of Fame:  Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses (“Let my people go!”), Gideon, Samson, David and Samuel.  If you’re aware of the story of their lives, then you know that they had weaknesses, but that didn’t stop God with them at all.  He did great and miraculous things with each of them.

What was Rahab’s signature moment that boosted her into God’s Hall of Fame?  She lied!  Joshua, king of Israel, sent spies into Jericho to see how things looked just over the hill.  However, the king of Jericho found out about the Israelite spies, and sent some of his soldiers directly to the one person’s house that would know about any men who were new to the community.  Who was that?  The town prostitute.  Of course.  She’d know.

What did our little Hall of Famer do?  Having hidden the spies on her roof under the camouflage of some branches—certainly no one would think to look up there—she cooked up a story.  A fabrication.  You know—a lie!  “Um, yeah, the strangers came to my home, but I didn’t know who they were.  And they left just before dark.  I don’t know where they went, but if you hurry, you can probably catch ‘em.”

And there it is, Rahab’s Hall of Fame moment.  Woo-hoo!  Congratulations.  Well done, girl.  Gimme five!  Confetti everywhere.

Yes, Rahab believed that the true God had sent the people who were on their way to Jericho and whose spies were hunkered down on her rooftop.  That was as much as she had.  On the strength of that, did she go out and evangelize the neighborhood to prepare for their coming?  No.  Did she pass out flyers inviting them to a potluck?  No.  Did she spend time in anguished prayer?  No.  Did she get rid of everything unclean and non-Jewish in her house before the people of God came for their visit, I mean, their invasion?  No.  Did she spend time in worship, or did she reach out to the poor and needy to earn favor with God before the invasion came?  No.  Rahab lied.  Nothing else. 

Why do I tell you this?  Because much of our fretting and worrying is over how seemingly meager our service or sacrifice for God is when looking over our past—that it all fails to amount to anything significant.  We remember great motivational sermons to do great things for God that drew from us great pledges of great commitment to great adventures of service to our great God.  It felt GREAT when we did it. But the years since have not revealed greatness.

Confronted by failed greatness, maybe we’ve closed off just a bit on the inside.  Maybe we’ve sort of turned off the lights in our heart, and we’re quietly disillusioned with ourselves.  “Greatness is for someone, but not me,“ we might think.  “What have I ever done that really matters to God?”

So, to answer that question, I have one for you:  What did Rahab do to get into God’s Hall of Fame?  On the count of three, what did Rahab do?  1, 2, 3:  “Rahab lied.”  She is the brilliant epitome of mustard seed faith; the tiniest little seed of faith in God, clumsily planted, and the mountain that was Jericho began to move.  Wow.

In our day we’re so caught up with doing things right that we miss, sometimes entirely, what God holds dear and values, which would set us free from much of the fear that plagues us.  Listen to what Paul wrote to the fearfully perfectionistic, rule-enamored Galatians: 

Galatians 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit (In other words, ‘Did you get God”) by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? . . . 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law (because you do things right), or because you believe what you heard?  (Parentheses mine.)

We know the answer.  If you were to scan the great and worthy days of my life in order to figure out my lineage, my relatives, I know you’d find that Rahab types figured prominently.

God measures in ways far better than we know.  I can’t imagine that Rahab thought much of her lie that night, but God did.  You may rest today, knowing that on the day you meet Jesus face to face on the other side, you will receive a rich inheritance that is imperishable, un-spoiled and fadeless, kept for you by your Father, who is pleased with His Son, who provided it all for you.

(This is a transcript of the video, “Two Words of Encouragement”, and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/wjHqfbU4df0.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

God Bless America

While we struggle like other countries, our struggles are not hidden because common men and women—the “everybody” of our melting pot—gave rise to our nation’s birth. Like them, we are actively assessing the needs of people near and far, citizen and foreigner, and laboring to choose our country’s approach to tomorrow. While some may fault us, I’m glad for our inventive and courageous heart that often struggles for the benefit and freedom of others. No other country does it as well as we do. That’s amazing and scary at the same time, but we’re all involved. We’re all responsible. It’s the greatest profit sharing plan ever. God bless America!

The Look That Works

There are many common ways by which we are measured and by which to measure ourselves, right?  What pressure that is.  What a lot of work it all is.  Have you noticed?   If we attempt to manage ourselves by those measurements and we interpret our success in that light, we darken and do not receive grace.

If, however, our “measurement” is God’s gift of never-ending righteousness in Christ, His gift of “It is well, and you are too,” then we will enjoy the fact that we have been taken from the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of the Son.  That’s where we are.  Only by believing (and sometimes newly believing again and again) that we are where God says we are, and that we are how God says we are can we accurately measure ourselves.  In other words, only then can we live with the person we think we are!  It’s the only way—the only true way.  And that’s when the pressure eases, because we’re enjoying the riches of our inheritance—the gift—given to us in Christ. 

The GOOD NEWS, the big deal, is that we had nothing to do with achieving or earning the gift; we are happy receivers only and always.  And by looking at it, by enjoying the gift, we are built up and encouraged in Him.  That’s how this all works—that’s how WE work—by looking at the gift.  God set it up for us.

I know it doesn’t fit with the pressures and measurements of this world, and, really, you can keep immersing yourself and swimming in the crazy currents of this world’s identity measurements if you like.  But the truth is, they don’t work.  And you don’t fit.  Jesus took care of all that by taking care of you.

Now watch this—pay attention to how you feel as you read the following, which was written for you: 

“ . . . joyfully give thanks to the Father, who has qualified you (in other words, He has made you right! It is well, and you are too.) to share in the inheritance (the gifted inheritance) of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (Colossians 1:12-14, parenthesis mine.)

Already and all done!  You’re in and you’ve got it all.  No worries.  Remember?

(This is a transcript of the video, “The Look That Works,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video and/or to subscribe, click http://youtu.be/x3WzwNfcG5k.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In just a couple of hours, I will assist my baby into the happy next work of God, which we will celebrate with abandon: Emma's marriage to Ben Rolfe. I am humbled, I have a nearly overwhelming sense of God’s beautiful design from days long past now being revealed, and I am fairly undone and wrecked with love for my girl. Emma, I love you.

Friday, June 23, 2017

He's Not an Alcoholic

After mentioning a Christian guy’s name, a friend of mine and I suddenly realized that we each knew him. My friend said, “Yeah, he’s an alcoholic.” And two things occurred to me: he had gone blind to this mutual friend, and both of them were injured as a result.

2 Corinthians 5: 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

If we're going to help people, we must choose the true, new creation view of them, and assist them in Christ. That helps them most, and keeps us from reckless and futile attempts that fail and frustrate us.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stand In Freedom

While you will feel pressure today to be something powerful, to be something dynamic, to be something productive and praiseworthy, Jesus will be laboring to keep you free of such pressure, and free to be the son or daughter He fashioned perfectly for His display of grace and glory.  He will be working to keep our sons and daughters free, our spouses and friends free, and even those who oppress us free from the ludicrous lie that life is about conquest, instead of the rest of bearing fruit and of building others up in the freedom of knowing and enjoying Jesus.  Some will not understand that—not yet, anyway—but you do. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stupid Days Stuck In-Between

Do you ever feel like you’re caught between what you want to do and what you have to do instead?  Do you ever struggle between some kinds of business principles or workplace rules and those of the Kingdom? And does it ever get so frustrating that you have a blow up or a break down?  You know, really lose it?

I simply thought from Jesus this morning that He knows we’re prone to frustration and anxiety and outbursts of temper:  “I can’t handle this!”  And He has not one iota of condemnation for us—not one.  I think He wants you to know that.

You and I are living life caught between two worlds—the temporal and the eternal.  The one we can see, and the one we can’t.  The one that passes away, and the one that lasts forever.  Just as the world in which we fit and belong begins to get into focus—“I can see it!  I can taste it!”—the other one comes barging in.  I can be enjoying the day, knowing Jesus and trusting in Him, when suddenly something worldly knocks me over . . . or knocks me mad or regretful.  I remember a bill I forgot to pay (and now, because of the interest added, I don’t have enough to pay it), I get a phone call from my daughter, who tells me that I forgot to pick her up (Great! Don’t I care?), or my health shows signs of getting bad, and I’m uncomfortable about how the future looks.  And then some clown in the parking lot cuts me off, and one of those, “I’m saving the planet” electric cars silently (and arrogantly, I’m sure) zooms into my parking space before I can.  And, let me tell you, it all starts adding up and boiling over.

It’s like I’m happily flirting with spiritual maturity, and then it rudely breaks up with me. “Not happening, baby breath!  Change your diaper!”  I don’t like it at all.

Or maybe I read someone’s facebook post that’s supposed to encourage me, but it’s got so much, you know, over-the-top, “everything and everyone is beautiful, life is good, butterflies for everyone!” junk that I want to throw up on their post.

But the truth is that I’m no less of an attractive target for the life and love and grace of God Himself than I was yesterday.  Maybe I’m a bigger target.  “Hooray for me!”  I can imagine a picture of my face on a big billboard alongside the freeway with the title:  “God’s most needy.”  Frankly, we’re all in competition for that title; I just think I’m winning.

I know that none of us really wants to be the most needy place for God’s work today.  But, if it’s true, He doesn’t mind.  He doesn’t have something better to do.  When you consider how He moved in order to get to the most needy during His days among us, do you think He’ll stop before getting to you, repulsed by your neediness?  No way.  He’s really good with that.

And He doesn’t have far to go in order to get to you, right? 

Romans 5:5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Where’s the glory or evidence of God going to show up best?  In me.  In you.) 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  (Parenthesis mine.)

So if you’re having one of those sloppy, stuck-in-between days, take a moment to breathe.  There is such purpose to this life, and through it all, God holds us securely in Christ, holy and righteous, priests of the earth. 

While this life is a mess, the next one won’t be.  But in the next one there won’t be any chance to live by faith in what we cannot see, no opportunity to grow and succeed in the battle against temptation, no one to lead to Jesus, no friend we need to pray for, no groceries to buy for a down-and-outer, and no forgetfulness that means we need to apologize to someone.  Nothing will be in-between anymore.  Everything will be exactly—way beyond exactly—as our hearts long for it to be.

That will be such a good day!  Just not today.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Most Satisfying

Here’s a question I was recently asked by a pretty antagonistic guy:  “What’s all this about childishness with Christians?  Doesn’t God want you to be mature and independent?”

My favorite thing of all is knowing Christ in me.  I love knowing Him, and seeing His grace and fruit in me and through me—His evidence—is the highest benefit.  I enjoy talking with Him and looking for Him and what He might do or say or lead, and I believe that is the essence of maturity. God doesn’t give birth to sons and daughters in order to one day separate from them, as though independence is His goal, maturity the result. 

As a son, I can do whatever I want—I am that kind of free—and what I want most is to know Him.  I am His child, but that doesn’t mean immaturity; it means offspring.  His delight (and my joy) is to grow us up with Him in such a way that we find out how perfect He is with us and for us.  In that way, dependence or independence isn’t the thing, togetherness is the thing; and that’s most satisfying for both.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Convention 220: Freedom In Christ Audio Available!

They’re available!  The audio files from our recent Convention 220: Freedom In Christ, have been bundled together into a terrific package for only $19.99.  That’s Andrew Farley, John Lynch, Frank Friedmann, Tracy Levinson and Wynema Clark, Jeremy White, Mark Maulding, Nicole Nicole Fitzpatrick, Bruce Barteaux, Bill Loveless, Davey Shollenberger, and even my workshop (“Finding Grace In A Dry Place”) is part of the deal.  Click the link to find out more and to order!  It's easy.

http://www.thelifebookstore.com/index.php?module=content&content_id=6357

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Connection

As ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), we are not serving people only a message of perfect condition with God (as good as that is), we are also serving a message of perfect connection with Him.  The connection is with Him, remember?  And He is Life!  Life with personality.  Life with feeling.  Life with direction.  Life with vision.  Life that had no beginning and has no ending.  Not just length of time life, but a new kind of life connected with Him.  “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  Enjoy His life and you will be enjoying reconciliation.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Three Words For Those Who Suffer

For those who suffer (as I do) from the stress and grief sometimes brimming over in our days, let me remind you that as insecure, insufficient and inept as everything often seems, three other words besides those are the gospel and power of God that rises up in you and me, heralding, shouting what is to come.  Everything we have because of Jesus—All of it!—is “imperishable” (it is ever-lasting and eternal), “un-spoiled” (it is untarnished and undefiled—there is no “Sell by” date!), and “fade-less” (the radiance of what you and I have will never diminish).  And all of it is secured, reserved and guarded for you by God Himself.  Nobody can touch it—not you, not me, not anyone, not any thing.  Nothing can change it.

1 Peter:1:2b Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Imperishable
Un-spoiled
Fade-less

We are well and we are secure, even on whacked-out, crazy, stress-full planet earth. 

(This is a transcript of the video, “Three Words For Those Who Suffer,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/xh7h6fupHb8.)

Share Your Fears

Please don’t keep your fears to yourself, as though they were your own to keep and deal with. That would be selfish. Share them with Jesus. Even over and over again. He loves meeting and sharing with you in anything and everything, and never tires of it. He’s perfect, so you don’t have to be.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Builder's Building

The church has become very difficult to see because we're confused about the building.

I know very well what it's like to be part of church-in-the-building leadership, and the pressure is high to get people to come and to "engage" in some manner. Whether and how people engage becomes the way by which leadership sees its effectiveness. Poor attendance and poor engagement reflects badly, leading to assessments, strategies and pressure for improvement. Good attendance and good engagement reflects well and becomes a template: "This is how we do ministry around here." Either way, attendance and engagement become the measurements for leaders, and attendees are caught in the measurements. (In fact, they also often adopt them.)

I would say that neither leaders nor attendees do well when this form of assessment is foundational. When it is, no one will be seen for who he or she really is in Christ, magnificent and noble, since that invisible and eternal reality will have been camouflaged by another one, visible and temporary. Our efforts and appeals will go toward the latter because that's what we see and that's what we can manage. (So we think.) Many of us attempt to live right there, in the passing away realm, contorting our true selves in the vain effort to make life happen where there is none. And so much fails from there.

But if we see what's true, if we believe God about what He does for and to the born again—It's astounding!—if that's our foundation, then we can go forward well from there. It will look different, to be sure, especially in a building. It must, since God is the builder and you are the building.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tiger Grace

The caption atop the picture above—“DUI (Driving Under the Influence) arrest is latest in Tiger’s fall from grace”—is the epitome of how twisted our view of “grace” has become.  It’s not because we’re stupid; it’s because we’re lied to by the Chief Liar.  Satan hates God’s grace, and he enjoys making it as twisted and perverted as he can for you.  Unrecognizable.  Impossible to enjoy. 

As much as Tiger Woods clawed, fought, cheated and connived his way to “the top” of the golf, monetary and social world, he cannot now “fall from grace” because he never earned grace to begin with.  Grace is always given; grace is never earned.  Indeed, when someone falls a great distance, it can be said that he has not fallen away from grace, but fallen into grace all the more.  (See Romans 5:20-12.)

And that’s how I’m praying for Tiger Woods.  “Jesus, as ugly as these days are for Tiger Woods, would you impress upon him how perfect you are for Him?  How kind, generous, forgiving and loving you are toward him?  Would you wake him up to you?  There’s nothing better for Tiger Woods than you, and I would love for this to be his time with you.  Amen.”

A Rare Nobility

On a national scale, shared sacrifice is pretty much a nobility of the past.  During World War II, 12% of the United States population was serving in the armed forces, which meant that much of the rest of the population were thoroughly connected, as well.  The 88% knew all about the focus and sacrifice of the 12%, and did a lot to support them—to say nothing about what families of those lost in battle endured.  Though separated by oceans and thousands of miles, we were a population together in sacrifice. 

Today, less that 0.5% are serving in the armed forces, and only a small percentage of the remaining 99.5% are sharing in their sacrifice—unless you count paying taxes.  I don’t. 

Further, I know that if I were to post a picture or a meme today thanking those who served and gave their lives in the service of our country, more than a few in my audience would be disappointed by my post.  I might lose a few friends, who are anti-military, having made their thoughts known over the years.  They might be quick to say that they’re not against those serving in the military; it’s just what the military does that they’re against—a distinction lost upon an actual soldier.  (That’s like telling me that you’re not anti-pastors, you’re just anti-church.)

But I recognize a beauty in those who take up a cause for the benefit of others that costs them more than the minor discomfort of marching and holding a sign of protest.  I see a struggling nobility in those whose families lost a father, mother, son or daughter in the service of my country.  They know why they served, even if that service is not glorified by those served. 

Well, today I am glorifying you.  I cannot actually show appreciation to those who gave up their lives—which is what Memorial Day is about—but I’m standing up for them and for their families.  I see you.  What you’ve done, what you’re doing counts with me.  Your rare nobility ranks high.  Thank you. 

Start Well


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Two Big Things

Two wonderful things occurred last evening: I finished writing my next book, and my youngest daughter, Emma, got home from New Zealand! I really wanted to finish my story before she got home because she is marrying Ben Rolfe (a terrific guy) in less than a month, and I will be officiating the ceremony. What a terrific day it was, and what a terrific month this will be! (As a long-awaited family project, my wife and daughters will share in the story by reading and editing it before I send it to the publisher. It's a family thing, and we think it's pretty exciting.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Life Is Not A Selfie

The mind set upon rule keeping and law keeping as a way of living will result in failure, sin and death.  You’re going to be a wreck.  Romans 7:8 says that sin seizes the opportunities that commandments give!  In other words, if you want to see a whole lot of sin and failure in your days, try living by some commandments—any commandments! Just cook a few up and watch what happens.  Or you could also try viewing other people by commandments, such as we do regarding our politicians.  You’ll have the same result in your life.   (Please read Romans 7 and 8.  Both are loaded with this.) 

Plus, the one making the attempt will go through his days in a perpetual selfie mode.  “Do I look good?” “Am I doing it right?” will be at the top of his self-righteous question list, the concern of most every moment.  That thinking, that mind, will keep him in failure, as it has for all who have ever attempted it.  (It’s Jewish, not Christian.)  One thing is fortunate:  he will break down.  He will weary. 

If you meet someone who has wearied of “Selfie Christianity” (“Do I look good?” “Am I doing it right?”), do not condemn him for being messy, inactive, uninvolved, disconnected or passionless.  DO NOT. 

The Spirit is seeing to it that the one born of Him is abandoning the false and futile focus, and is beginning to look to Jesus as His representative and life—if only a peek to begin with.  You and I can assist him with that little look.  His hope is actually beginning to grow because it has been exhausted in a false attempt, and must be reborn where it belongs—on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the life that is His to produce.

His hope is that nothing is demanded of him!  All is provided!  He lives by faith that Someone Else has done it all!  He was crucified with Jesus, and no longer lives—that’s actually true, he just doesn’t know it.  (See Galatians 2:20.)  The life he has been attempting—“Selfie Christianity”—is not life, but death!  He has unintentionally been bringing a false self to life, if you will allow me that.  That cannot work.

The way of life for him—his true hope—is to believe into Jesus, who gave himself for him, and who lives now on the inside. 

How active, how involved, connected and passionate is Jesus?  Plenty!  And that’s what he will discover.

The mind set upon Him is life and peace—Romans 8 says so!  But it’s His life and His peace, not your life made better so that your selfies look better.  In other words, the mind set upon Jesus is going to find out what life is really like!  That’s the hope.

The mind attracted and given to Jesus actually works, which is why you and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much—giving it and receiving it.  Because Life is an inside production, and not an outside parade captured by endless selfies, you’ve got to get off of the Selfie Christianity mode, and get into Jesus and how He is with you.

I hope this helps.  Pass it on, if you like.

(This is a transcript of the video, “Life Is Not A Selfie,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click https://youtu.be/AAe1g_25f_U, or simply scroll down this blog page.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Life Is Not A Selfie

Got 5 minutes?  Selfie Christianity is a form of living that actually prevents life.  If you’ve been caught up in it, here’s how God is replacing your image and getting you out of it.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

You're Not Tourist Trap Trash

God knows that you’ve been buried with Christ and raised with and in Him, which means you’re in a very Good Place.  How you feel about where you are might depend upon where you’re looking—at the visible and passing away, or at the invisible and eternal.  One is a comparative tourist trap; the other is home.  One will make you feel like rejected trash; one will make you feel like desirable gold.  One will confuse you; one will revive you.

I hope you have a good look around home today.  You’ll like what you know.  (The following will help.)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Life & Grace In Us

This was my prayer this morning, as Sarah and I woke and began to feel the weight and coming crush of responsibilities. This was no “silver bullet” prayer (“Everything will now be perfect!”), since, short of instant healing, Sarah will go through the day with a sore throat while living by faith in Jesus. This was a prayer of belief and renewal: I said what we knew to be true about Jesus and us, and our minds were cleared, our spirit’s encouraged as a result of the Spirit’s work of grace in us.

Living by faith in Jesus is how life works out.  Life is within—what happens outside of that is what goes on elsewhere.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

With


Children of the King

It’s available!  Andrew Nelson’s new book has just been released, and I want you to know all about it. I wrote the foreword to the book (see below), which is also highly recommended by Andrew Farley and Tracy Levinson, whose comments I have included.  You can get it in regular format and on kindle, so click on the link and check it out!

Foreword:  Andrew has a fantastic story to tell, and you and your family are going to love it.

As parents of two daughters, my wife and I searched during their early years for beautiful and captivating stories that we could read together, all the while confident that we would be stimulating their desire to know God, The King.  Our joy was full as we talked about Him through the pages of the books we found and shared, and our daughters, now grown, look upon those stories as heart-forming treasures they will one day share with their own families. 

Children of the King will be one of those books.

With a style conducive to reading aloud with family and friends, or in private contemplation, Andrew has put together an extraordinary allegorical tale that will intrigue and deepen the faith of all who read it. The many adventurous situations our imaginative characters encounter in the spectacular land of Amoria will make you laugh out loud, worry and tear-up in relief and gratitude, and maybe even induce you to verbalize the accents of Balderdash (the kindly gnome) and Wilbur (the minstrel)—it’s that kind of great.  My daughters were delighted when I attempted the noises and sounds of our stories, and ask me to make them even today.  This remarkable book begs for that kind of involvement. 

If you’re intrigued and enamored by the King and enjoy helping others to the same, Andrew’s book is for you.

"...an inspiring allegory that will both entertain and encourage readers of all ages." Andrew Farley, bestselling author of "The Naked Gospel"
"...a timeless adventure that is crafted to touch the hearts and minds of readers at any age. A classic parable by all counts." Tracy Levinson, bestselling author of "Unashamed"

https://www.amazon.com/Children-King-Andrew-Nelson/dp/1542464641/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1494532358&sr=8-1

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Update: My Next Book

How is my next book coming along?  I am happy to tell you that I have completed 20 chapters of a 23-chapter book, and am very excited about it.  This is an allegorical book themed by Colossians 1:27—"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."  In essence, I mean to help people to know and rely upon Jesus in them, the greatest, most enjoyable relationship ever conceived, which beautifully influences every other relationship they might have.  I will then produce a children’s book so parents, grandparents, relatives and children can together share the truth with each other of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

There is still a lot of work to be done, including editing and publishers, etc., so I ask for your prayers.  Thank you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life Happens on the Inside

Whenever and however my life appears to not be working—my involvement with people isn’t smooth, my writing isn’t flowing easily, I don’t have enough speaking gigs, my financial future is insecure—it’s then I am often induced to barricade my heart from all who would know me and assist me.  I begin considering what work to do about myself and what image to project that offers hope of getting what I want . . . which circles back to the same problem:  “My life isn’t working!”

Nevertheless, I think:  “I’ll be more disciplined.”  “I’ll be more creative.”  “I’ll be more caring.”  “I’ll be more capable.”  All of the “more's” that I’m going to be reveal that I’ve fallen under the judgment of being “less” than I think I am supposed to be—if I’m going to be any good, that is.  And no one can stand that judgment.  Except One.

When I remember that Christ in me is my life—Him—I begin to look inside, where His kingdom reigns in perfect capability.  He is the “more” I want.  Mercifully, I become more attracted to that kingdom—the one on the inside—than the one outside of me.  Peace and hope flow and surge again, and how I am in my days becomes more His concern than mine.  He is much better at “concern” and “how I am” than I am.  Have you found that to be true for you, too?

It’s through this kind of messy stuff that what the apostle Paul wrote takes on worthy meaning:  “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  As Paul wrote to the Galatian believers,  “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).  The life I live, I live not by talent, not by effort, not by managing myself and what goes on around me.  The life I live in the body—what I do is—I work toward believing and knowing Him in me, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

He’s here.  He’s on the inside.  And that’s where more goes on than anywhere else, because real life happens not so much around us as it does within us.

(This is a transcript of the video, “Life Happens On The Inside,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/KxK3lwYcPjo, or scroll down this blog page.)

Life Happens On The Inside

Got 3.5 minutes? Sometimes my attempts to be more than I am and to do better than I have been, become ugly and revealing . . . in a good way.  What feels awful at first then turns to my good, and I discover life all over again.  See if you don’t, too.  “How Inside Reality Becomes More Attractive Than Outside Chaos” might be the subtitle for this video.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Enjoying Blessing

If you believe that God is waiting to bless you based upon your obedience, you will be caught up in a self-righteousness crusade. You will try to hear just right, speak just right, move just right, behave just right, and give just right. You will have your self-righteousness at the controls of blessing. That is a terrible false burden because any vestige of a quid-pro-quo relationship with God—if you do it right, He’ll do it right—has forever been removed by the free gift of Jesus’ righteousness, making you exactly right in Him and having all things already. Because you believe Jesus, He has become everything for you, and in Him, you are well and thoroughly blessed. Think that through. We don’t live by or for the benefits of our righteousness; we live in His.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Growth

I believe that Christian growth is not change in the sense of becoming something you are not, but of growing into what and who you already are. A baby does not become more human as he reaches adulthood; a Christian does not become more Christian as his years increase. Through faith in Christ, he was reborn a perfect Christian and is growing into what and who he is, increasingly becoming "established in the faith."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A New Life

The high goal of the Christian is not “Don’t sin,” but “Live to the fullest.” Remember? It’s all about a new life.

Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's All Yours

When writing something down that’s in your heart and head, do you ever try to shout with your words because you’re excited?  I do.  I think the apostle Paul did, too.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

Think what that must have meant to Paul, let alone to you and me. Everything he had been working for and sweating over and fretting about concerning his life with God, Paul had been given.  Everything!  All of it.  There wasn’t a moment of work left, not a second of fear remaining over whether or not God was pleased with him enough.  God's entire blessing had been dumped on Paul for an entirely unrelated reason.

God wanted to.  So He did.  That’s worth shouting about, don’t you think?  I’ll bet the believers at Ephesus thought so, because the same “entire blessing” applied to them.

The love of God compelled God, and it still does. I'm so glad!  Oh, I've heard the love of God described as a love that simply decides for the benefit of another, and I know we're all supposed to love like that.  I wonder how many times I have heard someone say, "Love is a decision!"  The implication is always, "So get busy making decisions." The goal is about improving our relationships, and that's not something I want to downplay.  That’s important.  After all, it's just sensible . . . and calculated.

But is that really what motivated God?  Is that why God ". . .blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ"? I know that sometime long ago God planned to send Jesus to the cross and to raise Him again, lavishing us with benefits. But was it only a calculated lavishing?

No way!  That's not the love of God.  He wanted to! It pleased Him.  (See Ephesians 1:1-14)  And it was the “want to” that motivated the plan.  His love is ever flowing toward us, ever convincing us, ever rescuing us from doubt and fear and covetousness and lust and unbelief, and convincing us that He is as good as He says He is.  I’ll bet you’re getting to know that love, too.  It’s the big attraction!  The main event!  (See?  I’m shouting. ☺)

I'll tell you, that’s one of the highest desires of my life—to believe God about Himself.  I want always to live believing that God is who He says He is, that He does what He says He does out of love, and that He did what He says He did—blessed ME in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

“Really, Father? You really did?  You're not kidding?  I don't have to earn anything?  I have it already in Christ?”

"Yes, son, it is true.  It’s all yours. What do you think of that?"

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Well, then—Amen!  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Toward Recovery

Helping someone toward a revival (a recovery or a refreshing) when he has been down and depressed, does not come by telling him to not give up and try harder—“You can do it”—but by telling him about what God did for him through the cross and resurrection in making him new and free, with a whole new way to live; by faith in Jesus and that—“He did it.”  That’s the gospel, and that’s where the power of God is. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

This Is Who I Am

I teach grace first—what God did for us and to us in Christ—and works following.  That’s the order.  In my experience, most people do not actually know the first, but have over-dosed upon the second . . . and failed dismally.  We don't obey the commands throughout the New Testament in order to become something, but because they are our new normal—we have already become something, and they are in keeping with our new nature.  In other words, “God’s grace worked in changing me (I believe He did it), so there is a lot for me to do in keeping with who I am now.”  Through one sacrifice one time, God has made believers perfect—flawless.  We’re working from there.  Too many people attempt works as work to become something—“I’m supposed to do this so I can become a good Christian”—rather than works as the natural work of grace and faith—“This is who I am.“

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Phase Out 2

Here are some more phrases to go with yesterday’s post that, in the light of Jesus’ cross and resurrection and our faith in Him, we need to put away.

“Empty yourself and let God fill you.”  Why get rid of what God gave?  Embrace that He HAS filled you—exactly the way He intended.  Besides, how could a self empty itself?  That’s crazy.

“I just need to get out of God’s way.” 
You are not a blockade or a problem.  You’re His perfect vessel, and He lives through you, not AROUND you.

“I’m not perfect—God isn’t finished with me yet.”  Actually, you are perfect in Christ, and you are finished.  You’re simply growing up in faith about that.

“I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”  The grace that saved you changed you.  You are no longer a sinner, but a son…a saint.  Do not diminish God’s grace in order to inaccurately explain behavior.

These are not humble things to say; they are lies that disguise you to yourself, injuring and blinding you to the magnificence of the gospel.  You and I cannot live well in faith about Jesus if we accept that He failed to accomplish what the gospel says He did.  Instead, we will try to become something we already are, or we will try to get rid of something He already has.  Either way, that’s crazy . . . but we’re not crazy.  We are not hybrids—both old and new—we are new creations.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Phase Out

For my old-self-has-been-crucified, new-self-has-arrived, perfect and holy, new creation co-believers (meaning you and I are in agreement), would it be too much to ask that we phase out the phrases, “I am my own worst enemy,” and “I beat myself up all the time,” and “I’ve got to get myself together”?  If, indeed, Jesus was successful in making you new, sharing His nature with you, and uniting you with Himself, then you cannot be your own worst enemy, you’re not the one beating yourself up (that’s the flesh, and not you), and there is nothing for you to get together since you’re as perfectly put together as you’re ever going to be this side of heaven. 

Those phrases become invisible barriers to finding your life and identity in Christ, because you’ve accepted something that isn’t true, which is motivating you to work on something that doesn’t exist. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Greatest Collision in Human History

“What is he doing?” she asked. “Can he not call upon the angels to deliver him?” wondered another. “Why would he take this upon himself, innocent as he is?” a man questioned.

He did it for love. Jesus’ death upon the cross was the ultimate evidence of God’s love for us. In a single, terrible act, God put us into harmony with himself. Call it “The Greatest Collision In Human History,” where the perfect demands of the impossible old covenant met the perfect gift of the new covenant, and where the disease of sin met the cure of love and grace. From the beginning, it was no contest. 

On the third day, He rose from the tomb and, having made atonement for the sins of the people, achieved the Father’s desire of taking us out of the dominion of darkness by putting us into the kingdom of the Son—loved, safe, new and secure forever and ever. 

Now that “It is finished,” ours is to believe and enjoy the love and great benefits of God with us, perfectly and triumphantly displayed by Jesus at the cross and resurrection. “I will take it all,” said The Great Sin Thief, “so they may be perfectly healthy with me,” said The Great Physician, “so they may have everything I have for them,” said The Great Benefactor. 

That’s how it was and that’s how it is at Easter—the greatest collision in human history. 

“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7-8

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Antidote for Temptation

Pop Quiz: Where is God? While this probably isn’t very difficult for you, here’s a hint: Where has He made for Himself a perfect place to live? Where is He most happy to be right now? 

He is in you. That’s His big thrill! When you believed the gospel about Him, He actually came in—Surprise!—fully capable, ready to show Himself perfect with you and in you. How cool is that?

So it’s an amazing act of faith to offer yourself to God, who is now inside, to appeal to Him and call to Him in the beginning or middle or even at the end of temptation. God is excellent with you during temptation. After all, He’s famously familiar with it, right?

Hebrews 2:18 Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

That would be me! Isn’t it you, too?

So please don’t be shy with God during temptation. There’s no need to draw away from Him in presumed shame—it’s not from Him. He is great to know during temptation! He’s your very best friend, and the one who’ll keep all your secrets—you’re entirely safe with Him. He is perfectly patient with you. He knows the great truth about you—what a fantastic new creation you are—and He always serves you lovingly with the truth. 

By the way, why do we believe that the phrase, “The truth hurts,” is accurate with God? It isn’t! Not with Him. Not when He knows what He has done for you through the cross and resurrection, bringing you into Himself, and making you new and clean and holy and forever secure. The truth helps! It saves us! You were made for it, and He’s just the one to give it to you. That’s important to know when you’re suffering temptation, isn't it?

Jesus knows what it is to be tempted by a pile of money, a naked woman, a bottle of alcohol, the opportunity to cheat in order to get ahead in the task at hand, or by the suggestion of a lie that might seemingly make a relationship go better. He knows what all that stuff is like, how it weighs heavily upon us, sometimes conquering us. Jesus remains loving and perfect with you and me during it all. He is the antidote for all of that struggle. Remember? He was successful! He didn’t fall to it. And, if we need it, He is the recovery we seek.

Whatever is tempting you, whether fear, lust, covetousness, envy, pride—whatever—how excellent it is to offer yourself to God, now inside. You’ve got to know that the angels rejoice whenever they see us doing that, not only because they know that recovery is beginning and that we believe Christ is inside of us (we’re living by faith), but they also know that our friendship with God is getting better and deeper. I think they love that.

So instead of making pledges that we’ll be strong when fear or lust or disappointment rage against us, that’s especially when we move toward Him. When covetousness (for example) begins hammering away at us, we don’t make promises of obedient avoidance; we stay tight with our Friend. He frees us from that ugly, ungodly, uncharacteristic thing, and our friendship is deepened.

“Savior! I know you’re in me, so I look to you for your ability and grace, and for the way that you are. You’re what I need.” Lo and behold, He who now calls us His home takes care of what’s going on inside of the house. What a concept. Imagine Jesus one day long ago saying, “Hey! Here’s an idea. I’ll live in them and be Myself!” In my mind, that’s about how it went.

He who finds no fault with us—none—recognizes the assault going on inside of us, and He takes the blows and turns the fight. Afterward? We’re left with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s how He is, and that’s what He is like inside you and me. It’s God Himself showing off in you and me. And we’re the happy audience.

So when temptation strikes at you, don’t go it alone. Go to Him—on the inside—and He’ll see to you.

Romans 6:11-14 says: In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Italics mine.)

And so you are.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Satisfaction

Temptation is the lie that you are empty, and that you should look elsewhere for satisfaction.

Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.

We are--all of us--satisfaction junkies, and it is ever and always found in Jesus.  That's the set up.  That's the deal.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Noggin Knockers

I'm about 4/5 of the way to completing my next book.  How cool is that?  Sometimes when I'm writing as intensively as I am, I get all knotted-up in my noggin.  I'm glad for little scenes like this in my front yard this morning.  I guess that makes these my knotted-up noggin knockers.  (By the way, THANK YOU to those supporting me.  I could not and cannot do this without you.)

Perfect Containers

The flesh, which desires what is in conflict with the Spirit (work for your righteousness versus accept it as a gift), covers over the truth that we aren't here to become someone, but to contain Someone -- and to enjoy that Someone more and more as the days go by.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Look Up

Why is your opinion of yourself so important? To the degree it is inaccurate is the extent you’ll be living a lie, and no one does that well. However, when a person gets the idea that God’s opinion can be known and that it is both excellent and accurate, his wrestling with himself and with this world diminishes because he no longer needs it to find himself. What a good thing that is. Rest and love and ease around other people are found. So if you’ve got some inner wrestling going on today, consider where you’re looking: in the mirrors of this world, or at Jesus, who gives you . . . well, He gives you you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Grace Teaching

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stay Free

When trying to get along and have good relationships, please remember that you are a son or daughter of God first—in casual relationships, in friendship and marriage—having that as your true identity. Stay right there, and work from that foundation. Otherwise, the attempt to be what someone else needs may induce you to give up who you are—your identity—and make you a slave to the lie that you have to achieve an identity.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beware Fake News

Okay, there is a lot of crazy, gobble-dee-gook stuff going around that’s being passed off as “truth” and Christian gospel, but it is ridiculously far from Jesus and will take you far from God and knowing Him.  It is not the gospel news; it is fake news.  Some of these deceived purveyors of anti-Christ lies share Facebook friends with me, so please be alert. 

While there are plenty of examples, here’s a quote from a deceiver from this morning: 

“Our concept of a ‘personal’ God will at some point of maturity come more to the understanding of the vast, empty, open, universal knowing or consciousness we call ‘God.’ There is nothing there but Itself.  And as you read these words, the ‘You’ who understands them, is consciousness itself...the very BACKGROUND of all that you perceive and every activity you engage in.”

Rubbish.  Anything that essentially gets rid of Jesus Christ by offering such things as an “empty” “Itself” as a replacement, a “universal knowing” instead of a specific revelation of God in Christ Jesus, is horribly deceived and targeting you for the same.  Don’t go there!  This kind of attempted deception is nothing new.  If Satan has one wit of smarts, he’s going to use someone he has deceived into offering you a diminished or unnecessary Jesus (i.e., He wasn’t God, He didn’t need to die, etc.), a needless, bloody cross and resurrection (i.e., there was no need for either, because there was never anything wrong with you and God), and no need for faith in Jesus because He isn’t the only “way, truth, and life”.

This is not the gospel I know and love and teach, and this does not offer you Jesus, who alone gives eternal life.  You and I are in a long line of those challenged and reviled for the gospel of Christ, but this persecution is not an insult, it is an identification.  Stand firm in the gospel that has made you free and secure; it is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.  People will be glad you did.

2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Keep to the gospel, my friends, and beware fake news.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Love & Lars

For those who think that I might be a little/lot loony, you do have reasons after all. I'm watching the movie, "Lars and the Real Girl" for the, um, like, fifth time. Or so. Don't judge me. Well, okay, judge me. But have you seen it? It's all about love: how far will we go, loaded by God as the love-compelled lovers of people, how far will love move us to rescue someone who is lost? According to this stellar, quirky, kind, ridiculous, and noble movie, rather far.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Leaving the Shallows for the Deep

Many of us have learned to live on shallow opinion, much of it formed not by empirical, personal experience, but upon the presumed research and oftentimes money-driven point of view of someone else.  If it fits with our worldview (however that’s been formed), we buy it and tout it and support it as though it were our very own.  But it’s not.  We’ve grown accustomed to accepting fast-food fare, prepared and packaged by someone else, and wonder why we’re malnourished.  We’re starving but demanding more.  We’ve gotten used to media-served, shallow satisfactions because they flame-up quickly, and we think the heat validates the source.  It doesn’t, but I’m afraid we’re addicted. 

Turning it off might cause initial withdrawals, but in the void you will see the ruse, you will know you’ve been conned, and your deepest and truest longings will redirect you to what truly satisfies.  And then you will no longer be empty, but full and free of shallow satisfactions.